Getting Started: Book 1 - Logical Fallacies

This year you’ll be reading 3 different books.  We will cover 2 chapters a week in order to complete all 3 books by the end of the year.  I have broken down each book into their chapters and given a small writing assignment to complete after you read each one.  This should take you 30 to 45 minutes twice a week.

Chapter 1: The Straw Man

Write 1 to 2 paragraphs explaining the Straw Man argument.  Create your own example to show your understanding.

Chapter 2: False Cause

Write a paragraph explaining:

1. the difference between causation and coincidence

2.  When someone uses a false cause fallacy, how have they confused causation and coincidence

Chapter 3: Appeal to Emotion

Write 2 paragraphs.  In the first, explain the Appeal to Emotion fallacy in detail.  In the second paragraph, give an example of how this is used in our world today (either by politicians, news media, parents, or teachers–be sure to use a different example from the ones in the book).

Chapter 4: Slippery Slope

Sometimes it can be appropriate to use the slippery slope argument.  Write a paragraph explaining how you could use the slippery slope argument properly vs. what you should avoid when using the slippery slope argument. 

Chapter 5: Ad Hominem

Write a paragraph explaining the Ad Hominem fallacy.  Have you or a friend ever been the victim of an Ad Hominem attack?  What happened and how did it make you/them feel?  Explain.

Chapter 6: Personal Incredulity

Have you ever had an experience where someone uses personal incredulity in an argument or debate–or even used it to get out of work?  Tell about a time you or someone you know engaged in the personal incredulity fallacy.  

Chapter 7: Special Pleading

Write a paragraph that explains the Special Pleading fallacy and then give an example of how you’ve seen someone use this in your own life.

Chapter 8: Loaded Question

Answer the following questions:

1. What is a loaded question?

2. How should you answer a loaded question?

3. Give an example of a loaded question (use a different one from what the book provides).

4. Give an example of the other “tricky” way people set up a question, with a loaded statement before the question (see pages 61/62 for a reminder).

5. How can you avoid asking loaded questions in an argument? 

Chapter 9: Burden of Proof

There is a lot we don’t know in our world, but just because we aren’t sure and our knowledge is limited doesn’t mean that something you believe is definitely true.  Write a paragraph explaining in detail the burden of proof fallacy and why we should avoid using it in debate.  

Chapter 10: Ambiguity

Write a paragraph explaining how someone can use the ambiguity fallacy to mislead and how other can use it by accident–not meaning to create confusion, but doing so because they didn’t use their words well.  

Chapter 11: The Gambler

Write a paragraph explaining the Gambler fallacy? Give some examples of how people use this fallacy in everyday life.  

Chapter 12: The Bandwagon

You know that just because an idea, person, or activity is popular doesn’t necessarily mean it is good, right, and moral.  Write a paragraph with an example of something popular in our society but not really moral or right in your opinion.  Use 2 to 3 good arguments against this idea that most people have jumped on the bandwagon to support.  

Chapter 13: Appeal to Authority

You can certainly use the opinions of authorities to help you with your argument, but be careful not to lean on what they say just because you consider them an authority.  This is happening all the time with the covid-19 debate.  Give an example (by writing a sentence or two) of someone using the appeal to authority to support covid-19 restrictions.  Then, give another example of someone who may reference an authority but does not commit the Appeal to Authority fallacy.   

Chapter 14: Composition and Division

The fallacy of composition and division is a difficult one to identify.  As stated in the chapter, this whole-to-part division argument is correct: 

All Men Are Mortal. 

Socrates is a Man. 

Therefore Socrates is Mortal.  

Develop 3 whole-to-part arguments using this model to familiarize yourself with structure:

All ___(A)____ are ___(B)___

__(C)___ is a ____(A)___

Therefore, __(C)__ is ___(B)__

 

In the Socrates example above, notice that men/man(A) is in blanks 1 and 4, Socrates (C) is in blanks 3 and 5, and Mortal (B) is in blanks 2 and 6.  Use the same pattern to create your whole-to-part arguments.  

 

Then, create one whole-to-part argument that is ridiculous (like the invisible chicken). 

Chapter 15: No True Scotsman

Write a paragraph explaining what the No True Scotsman fallacy is and the best way to counter it should someone use it against you in an argument.  

Chapter 16: Origins

Answer the following questions:

1. What is the Origins fallacy?

2. The chapter uses someone arguing “fake news” to explain away an accusation.  Who was the chapter referring to and do you think it’s appropriate?

3. Why do people use the origin fallacy to avoid arguments?

 

Chapter 17: Black or White

Write 2 paragraphs.  In the first, describe the Black or White fallacy and the major consequence of using it in an argument.

In the second, give an example of a black or white fallacy.  You can either make one up or draw on your own experience to share. 

Chapter 18: Begging the Question

Begging the question fallacy is basically not taking the time to question the assumption behind the question.  Maybe the assumption IS true, but its just not stated well or clearly.  Other times the assumption is actually incorrect.  

Check out this website that  gives more detail about Begging the Question: 

https://examples.yourdictionary.com/reference/examples/begging-the-question-fallacy-examples.html

 

Especially note the difference between raising the question and begging the questions which are commonly misunderstood and misused in our everyday talking.  No writing this week! 

Chapter 19: Appeal to Nature

While natural things may sometimes be good, appealing to nature is a fallacy because it doesn’t add any substance to the argument.  

Write 1-2 paragraphs explaining why people believe natural is good and unnatural is bad and then give two ways you can point out the fallacy while in a discussion.

Chapter 20: Anecdotal

This chapter bothers me just a bit.  The author argues that the use of personal stories is a fallacy.  This is correct.  But he also goes on to use the example of Vaccines causing Autism, and proof of that should not be supported by personal stories.  Instead, he argues that the “data” doesn’t support vaccines causing autism.  This is where I have a problem.  Currently, in our world, the data is skewed to support big tech, big pharma, and government.  There is much evidence to support that the “data” was tampered with and those who did find connections (data) between Autism and Vaccines were publicly attacked and their careers destroyed.  In this case (when data is tampered with) the use of anecdotes can often be useful in understanding the propensity for something to happen so we can see both side of the story instead of the one that the media wants us to support. 

This week, I want you to consider how learning logic is a great skill, but it must not overshadow the use of intuition and heart.  Write 1-2 paragraphs on why logic alone, without the use of personal experience and intuition, could lead us in the wrong direction as a society.   

Chapter 21: The Sharpshooter

Answer these questions:

1. Explain how cause and effect are reversed in the Sharpshooter fallacy

2. What is confirmation bias?  How do you avoid it? 

3. The author uses the term “cherry-picking” data.  What do you think this means?  

Chapter 22: Middle Ground

Look on page 172 for the parts of the Middle Ground fallacy.  Give 2 examples of the fallacy using your own words for “x”.

Next, give a reasonable argument against each of the fallacies you represented.

Chapter 23: Tu QuoQue (pronounced: Quo-Quay)

The Tu QuoQue fallacy happens in our house A LOT! So this week we’ll be thinking about how we can address this issue when someone uses this fallacy on us. 

 Write 2 paragraphs.  In the first, explain the difference between the Ad Hominem fallacy and the Tu QuoQue fallacy (go back to the ad hominem chapter if you need to).  

In the next paragraph, explain how you can combat the Tu QuoQue fallacy and give an example of a recent incident at home where someone used the fallacy on you and how you responded.  

 

Chapter 24: The Fallacy Fallacy

Write a summary paragraph of the takeaways from the Fallacy Fallacy.  What is it and why should you avoid it?  

Book 2 - Courageous Heroes

As with the last book, we’ll complete 2 chapters per week.  Each week you will have a longer writing assignment of 1 full-page (4 to 5 paragraphs). Choose 1 person to focus on and write your paragraph.

Corrie ten Boom vs. Harriet Tubman

In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):  

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life? 

 

Booker T. Washington vs. Robert Smalls

Choose one of these people to write about.  In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):  

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life? 

Signers of the DOI vs. William Wilberforce

In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):  

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life? 

Sophie and Hans Scholl vs. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):  

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life? 

Althea Gibson vs. Katherine Johnson

In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):  

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life? 

Helmuth Hubener vs. Harriet Beecher Stowe

In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):  

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life? 

Stephen Langton vs. Prudence Crandall

In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):  

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life? 

Matthew Henson vs. Laura and Rose Wilder

In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):  

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life? 

Little Rock Nine vs. George Muller

In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):  

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life? 

Edward Snowden vs. Frederick Douglass

In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):  

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life? 

Mercy Otis Warren vs. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):  

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life? 

Book 3 - Beware Your Bias

As with the last book, we’ll complete 2 chapters per week.  Each week you will have a longer writing assignment of 1 full-page (4 to 5 paragraphs). Choose 1 person to focus on and write your paragraph.

Chapter 1: Anchoring
Chapter 2: Sunk Cost

Choose one of these people to write about.  In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life?

Chapter 3: Availability Heuristic

In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life?

Chapter 4: Curse of Knowledge

In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life?

Chapter 5: Confirmation Bias

In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life?

Chapter 6: Dunning-Kruger Effect

In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life?

Chapter 7: Belief Bias

In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life?

Chapter 8: Self-Serving Bias

In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life?

Chapter 9: Backfire Effect

In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life?

Chapter 10: Barnum Effect

In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life?

Chapter 11: Groupthink

In 4 to 5 paragraphs answer the following questions (use a paragraph to answer each question):

1. Who did you choose and why did you choose this person?

2. What made them courageous? (give two to three examples. Each example should be its own separate paragraph)

3. How will this person’s example help you in your everyday life?

Chapter 12: Negativity Bias

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Chapter 13: Declinism

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Chapter 14: Framing Effect

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Chapter 15: Attribution Error

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Chapter 16: Halo Effect

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Chapter 17: Optimism Bias

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Chapter 18: Just-World Hypothesis

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Chapter 19: In-Group Bias

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Chapter 20: Placebo Effect

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Chapter 21: Bystander Effect

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Chapter 22: Reactance

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Chapter 23: Spotlight Effect